After a day tour with Enjoy Bagan Tour visiting Chauk provincial market, historic Salay's museum, Mount Popa and a sunset boat cruise, I was wondering if we will be ready for our 20 km cycling tour through dirt path inside Bagan Archaeological Zone the next morning, on the first day of new year 2017.
I thought it would be a great idea to do something different when we visit Bagan. There are several options to see Bagan Archaeological Zone's amazing site with the thousands of stupas and temples ranging from different sizes and monumental architectural wonders. I was initially thinking of the hot air balloon, but after checking the cost of two of the most popular companies that offer the hot air balloon experience, it was beyond our budget. The area is vast and wide. To do on our own will take too much time and will be near impossible with the time we have in Began. So I had opted for a 1/2 day morning cycling tour with the Grasshopper Adventure.
The cycling tour started very early in the morning. We were supposed to meet at 7am at the tour company's office. We were punctual. Arrived at 7am. We were the first. A row of bicycles were nicely placed outside the office. Two guys were checking each of the bicycles - the brakes, the tyres' pressure, refilled a plastic bottle with water and securely placed on the bike bottle holder. We waited for the other tourists. 10 minutes later, another couple arrived who introduced themselves and said they are from New Zealand but working as an expat in Singapore. Soon another Chinese man arrived - said he was original from Malaysia but living and working in Hong Kong. 10-15 minutes gone by. A family of 4 showed up - mum, dad and 2 teenage boys. Americans. We waited for another 10 minutes wondering if the others will show up. Extremely relieved when the guide finally said we could leave and not wait for the remaining 6 people. Considered them as a no-show from a late night new year's party.
Our cycling tour started with a visit to a local market.
It was an easy ride to get to the market. Our guide shared his knowledge on the different fresh products sold at the market. It was a fresh cold morning. Walking through the market was nice, calm and relaxing. There was no sense of rush among the locals. It was surprisingly well organised, neat and tidy. This was a contrast from the provincial market in Chauk that we had visited the day before.
We were all ready to leave for our next leg of our cycling tour. The only problem was our guide couldn't find the American mum! She was busily taking photographs of the people in the market and strayed away from the remaining group. Eventually she decided to show up and on we continued with our ride. She did this again at a few other stops - taking her own time and wondering off in disregards for the others and let everyone wait before we get to continue with our trip. Extremely selfish and self centred.
Next we cycled into the archeological zone. It was a slightly more challenging ride on the dirt path. Some turns were worse than others with mounds of sand and stones. We had to be careful when there was oncoming motorbikes. I was not a good cyclist and rarely ride a bicycle. I was quite nervous when I first started on the dirt path - a bit wobbly and unable to control the bike. But after awhile I got more comfortable and told myself I would be okay - it was a good bike. Not an ordinary bike, but a mountain bike.
I really enjoyed the tour. It was well organised. Started with a market visit. Slowly built up the climax and momentum of the ride with visits to a small stupa to a medium size stupa and then to 3 very spectacular monumental sacred stupa sites. Along the way, our guide explained the differences of the different stupas that we had visited and the significance and history of the last 3 monumental sites. After all the temples' visits, we were rewarded for our 20 km ride with a refreshment of tea and some local deep fried savoury and sweet snacks at a local open style restaurant, and a tour of a bean paste making factory.
It was an enjoyable, fun day to see the Bagan Archaeological Zone mixed with a low impact type workout. I would recommend this 1/2 day cycling tour, which is affordable at $35 USD pp. There is no point asking the tour company how many people is in the tour. Because I was told in an email before I confirmed my booking that the maximum is 8. On the day, I was told there was 15 of us. Too many for my liking for a bicycle tour. Fortunately 6 was a no show. And, a minor disruption to a smooth tour by an American mum who thinks the tour was all about her. I guess this thing does happen when it comes to a group tour.
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